After the devastating floods in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, fear of the spread of corona is growing. And the Chancellor comes back to the disaster areas to get an idea of the situation on site.
Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) gets a picture of the flood disaster in North Rhine-Westphalia this Tuesday (11.55 a.m.). Together with NRW Prime Minister Armin Laschet, who is also candidate for Union Chancellor, she comes to Bad Münstereifel. The place in the Euskirchen district has been severely affected by the storm of the past few days. Merkel speaks to representatives of aid organizations and helpers. After a meeting with affected citizens, a walk through the area is on the program.
Merkel was in Rhineland-Palatinate at the weekend and had a picture of the situation in the flood area around Adenau with Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD). The Federal President had already come to NRW on Saturday: Frank-Walter Steinmeier had looked at the situation in Erftstadt, which was destroyed by the floods, at the invitation of Laschet. A huge landslide had swept away streets and houses in the Blessem district. The break-off edge at the edge of the crater was last considered to be a risk zone.
At least two billion euros in infrastructure damage
Since Monday, several days after the flood disaster began in North Rhine-Westphalia, there has been a reason to breathe a sigh of relief: the Steinbach dam near Euskirchen, which has been threatened by floods for days, appears to be holding. The authorities had announced that there was no longer any risk of a dam breaking there. Residents of the surrounding areas were able to return to their homes.
By Monday, the death toll rose to at least 164: 117 were confirmed from Rhineland-Palatinate and 47 from North Rhine-Westphalia. In both federal states, it was not ruled out that further victims could be found.
For the survivors of the floods, it is still a matter of clearing away mud and debris from their homes and the streets. In many places, the infrastructure with roads, railroad tracks, bridges, cell phone masts, electricity and gas lines and drinking water supplies have been destroyed. The federal government expects at least around two billion euros in damage to Deutsche Bahn and roads alone, as the German press agency learned on Monday from government circles.
Emergency shelters cause concern – vaccination campaign planned
The state government in Rhineland-Palatinate wants to ensure that the disaster does not lead to increasing numbers of corona infections, for example through aid campaigns or accommodation in emergency shelters. ‘At the moment, many people are coming together in a very small space to deal with the crisis together. We now have to be careful that dealing with the disaster does not turn into a superspreader event, ‘said David Freichel from the Corona communications staff of the State Chancellery in Rhineland-Palatinate to the editorial network Germany (RND). The State Ministry of Health is preparing a special vaccination campaign in the disaster areas in consultation with the authorities of the affected districts.
The danger of increased corona risks can also be seen in North Rhine-Westphalia. ‘An increased risk of the spread of SARS-CoV-2 could develop primarily through the accommodation of people in emergency shelters,’ the RND quoted the Düsseldorf Ministry of Health as saying. The local health authorities are aware of the additional risk. They can be reduced through tests, masks and ventilation.
In the Berchtesgadener Land in Bavaria, too, violent storms with heavy rain led to water floods and landslides. Some places around Watzmann and Königssee were devastated. The Bavarian cabinet is discussing help this Tuesday (9 a.m.).